Monday, November 07, 2005

Eve of Epic Journey Brain Dump

Paraphernalia

Since we might be taking Jackie's nifty van (or maybe not since she didn't see any tiedowns in the back for me to strap the dog crates to), I've been going through my van, trying to make sure that I've got everything I could possibly want for a 7-day, 1600-mile trip through the desert to a large dog event (our route, more or less). I have so much DOG STUFF. I bought a nifty large gear bag--like a satchel with over a dozen little pockets--a few years back and filled it with all the random stuff that I found useful or potentially useful at trials and stuffed the rest of the space full of toys. Then it got to be so full of stuff, and it was so large, that I eventually got (luckily won in a raffle) a smaller grooming bag and moved the stuff that I frequently used (as opposed to "might need" or rarely used) into the small bag. Oddly enough, the big one was still stuffed to the gills.

So yesterday I emptied both bags to see what I had. Huh. Tons of stuff. A Flexi-lead that I used only a few times, didn't like much, and have since encountered several trainers who dislike it for various reasons. Probably haven't used it in 5, 6 years. Can donate to raffle. Found a Zoom Groom (oops--this one's a PetFingers brand--uh, wait, huh, apparently petfingers is an older brand name for the zoom groom) that was the only thing that really worked at all for getting Remington's fur out. I've been regretting not clipping a lock of Rem's fur before he "crossed the rainbow bridge." Guess what--zoom groom still had Rem fur embedded! So I pulled that out and saved it.

Don't really need to carry around 8 tennis balls with handle-loops attached. Tossed some of the ripped-up ones. Found the dog whistle I bought years ago and have never done anything with. The big bag has become a repository for first-aid-type things. Don't often use, but handy when the call comes. So do I take the big bag, too, just in case? Argh.

Boostie Spooked By Storm

Or by something. Last night she was quite spooked by something, kept barking warningly at the southwest area of the yard. I took her out with the other dogs, we looked at everything, the other two dogs did their usual unconcerned exploration of the area, but nothing convinced the puppy. She wanted to go hide in the garage behind the car. She wouldn't quit all evening. I don't know whether it was the occasional raindrops? (First time it's rained since she was very young, I believe.) Or the changing barometric pressure as the storm comes in? I have no idea.

She was fine overnight; happy to get into her secure crate in the bedroom, I suppose, but started right up again this morning. I walked around the whole area again, talking calmly, touching and patting and rattling things. Still spooked. I finally set her up on the hot tub where she could see everything, put her into a sit next to me using the calming/controlled hold where she leans against me, can't get away, relaxes into me while I stroke her. She watched the world very carefully the whole time but after only a couple of minutes there, she relaxed visibly and now seems to be OK.

Go figure.

Tika's dogwalk

I started training the dogwalk up contact with a 4x4 across the board above the contact zone, trying to get her to put her feet into the contact zone instead of leaping over it. Worked fine at shorter distances, as I started her close to get used to it being there, then worked gradually backwards. But after I got about 12 feet away (path to dogwalk, if straight on, will usually be 15 to 20'), she started leaping over the contact zone AND the 4x4. I moved the 4x4 up a foot. She leaped farther. I moved it up another foot.

It's amazing how far a dog can leap when she wants to. I moved it up another foot.

Yow. Wow. What an amazing leap, more than halfway up the ramp without landing a foot on it! Then, when I gave that up and moved it back down and took her back in closer to get her to shorten her stride again, she wouldn't; apparently after figuring out that she can REALLY leap to clear the 4x4, she has decided to always do that.

So i took it off again and she went back pretty much to usually just missing the up contact.

Only 2 days ago I decided to try it on the ground in front of the ramp. At a foot out and starting about 8 feet to 10 feet away, it worked perfectly, feet in the middle of the contact zone. But if I took her back to about 15 feet, she flew over the 4x5 AND the up contact. If I moved it too far away from the ramp, she put in an extra stride to hit the ground below the ramp and then leap over it. So I have to move the 4x4 in and out depending on how far away from the ramp she's going to start running. But if I judge it correctly, she lands beautifully in the middle of the up contact each time.

The thing to do would be to do that hundreds of times so that she develops "muscle memory" about her approach to the dogwalk. And during that time, gradually fade the barrier--to a 2x4, then maybe a 1x4, then maybe a broomstick-diameter piece, and so on.

But I've had only 2 days until Nationals. I probably shouldn't be mucking with it at all.

We've also been doing jumps and more jumps. I don't want to overdo, but I do want her to be actively thinking about not knocking bars. And now today it's supposed to be raining off and on all day. We might or might not get in any more practice. Such a challenge!

Old Jake

We went up to Power Paws for Nationals Practice on Saturday afternoon. Ran 3 fairly complex full-length courses, but of course got opportunities to to work on the parts with which we had trouble and ask advice from our instructors. I'm grateful to Power Paws for hosting this for their students. There were probably only about 15 to 20 of us, max, who took advantage of it--there were only 4-5 of us during the 2 1/2 hours I was there--but it reminded me of several things that I have to be aware of as a handler.

Jake was not superfast. He can do quite speedy weave poles, but never has been fast at them in competition (faster than Remington, but still not great), and he has now slowed down immensely. I don't know whether they're uncomfortable to do because of his back, or whether he can't hear my voice prompt any more so isn't secure in what he's doing, or can't see me as clearly so is trying to watch me more closely in case I do something else--

He did OK on other stuff. Will NOT stick his contacts when he's in competition mode. I never did have good down contacts for him; he always has had problems making the dogwalk down. In class, he's perfect. But nowhere else. In fact, in tests in the yard this week, he wouldn't stick them at all unless I was right next to him, stopped and pointing. In competition, even that doesn't stop him. Oh, well, I expect he'll fly off them all like he did last year at Nationals.

He's not running all that fast, either, at least not all the time.

I decided several weeks ago that he's going to stop going to class after Thanksgiving. :-( And no more USDAA competition; I see him working to make even the 16" jumps. Probably still do a little CPE because he can jump 12" as a veteran, or I even have the option of running him at "specialist" and he could jump 8"! It almost seems like cheating--but he seems much happier at trials after he's gotten at least one run in for the day.

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